As Photographers (Creatives) we all find inspiration from somewhere. As I’m preparing to move to Germany in a few months, I figured I’d push this out so maybe I can inspire other photographers here in Colorado, or around the world to step their game up and take care of their people.
For me a huge inspiration for a part of my customer service came from the song, "Stan" by Eminem. If someone's reaching out to me about doing a photo shoot, then to me it's important, because my business is important to me, and so are my potential clients.
If people are reaching out to me to work with them, I respond back within 24 hours. If not, I take off 1% of their total cost after each hour that passes. I answer EVERY phone call, text message, Email, Facebook Messenger/Facebook Fan Page message, Instagram DM, hand and smoke signals. If I don’t respond within 96 hours, then I chalk that up to a free shoot. If they don’t respond back, then I chalk it up as a loss and keep it moving. You have to keep it moving people…I noticed a lot of my peers get caught up on rejection and failure. I did once, however after that one incident, I promised to never dwell on it because I did my job to the best of my ability and my team that was there did as well. (See… poop happens… I moved on!!)
Throughout my small tenure here in Colorado, I've been told from other photographers to, “Act like I’m busy”, or “Available, but unattainable”, so I can draw interest from potential clients. Now to someone who’s just dumb, that’d make sense, however for me, I’ve worked in the customer service realm for over 20 years when I was an active duty Marine. We’ve got to do better!! Yes, unfortunately, there are seriously people out there that won’t answer you on purpose. Regardless of however many clients I have at the time, I answer EVERYONE with a full-fledged, professional response.
For me it’s important to engage every client like they’re my first and only client. As a photographer, a part of your job is to make your clients feel good before and after the shoot. No, you can’t please everyone; especially those folks that show up unprepared, or ones who have worked with other people, however they won’t listen to your instructions because they unfortunately, “know it all”…Yes, it happens. I say, “your instructions” because essentially, you’re the director of the shoot and should know how to direct your clients with poses to make amazing photos.
Now there’s some out there who say that they abhor answering their phones and let their anxiety take over. I say to them…you’re losing business!!! I learned years ago from my General Manager (Mindy) while working part time at “Blockbuster Video” in Brooklyn Park, MN that, “The most important customer, is the customer that you can’t see.” I fielded questions all the time there and it too helped me as a Marine to take care of my personnel. If you’re okay with losing that business, then believe me, I will take it.
Answering inquires is just a small part of the job, and I wrote a small “post-it” note to myself years ago that is stuck to my computer monitor that reads, “WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!”, and you best believe that I do whatever it takes to ensure that proper communication happens on every level to make my business thrive. Did I mention that I even answer the phone for other photographers as well? Yes, I repeat, I even answer the phone for other photographers. I say this because a long time ago, when I was trying to find my footing in this business, there was a photographer online stating in a social media group, “If you have any questions, please contact me”. Well, I picked up the phone and contacted her in a completely professional manner, and just wanted to ask additional questions about the subject she was speaking about, however she was completely unprofessional. From that day forward, I said that I’d NEVER be that way towards any photographer. We’re peers. Regardless of skill level, we’re peers, and I won’t talk down to people. I’ll encourage, recommend, or suggest, but NEVER talk down to anyone the way I have from her and others.
In closing, when I say, “We’ve got to do better!!”…it’s to encourage, and motivate those who want to succeed to do better. Make your clients a priority, and you’ll see it come back twofold!
Thank you for your time.
Mike @mikeconphoto on Instagram